Thursday 10 October 2019
It was an honour to sponsor the first Diwali Festival in the Scottish Parliament this week.
The event brought together many people from all faiths and communities to celebrate together and my thanks go to the representatives from the Hindu Forum of Britain Scotland Chapter for organising the event.
We were treated to a wonderful dance and some fantastic music as well as taking part in the lighting of the lamp.
Diwali Festival of Light is one of the most important festivals for Hindus across the world.
The festival promotes and celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness – this is particularly timely in these extremely unpredictable political times.
This is also a time for families and friends to come together and share with each other and those less fortunate, as well as an opportunity to bring communities together in celebration.
I send my best wishes to everyone celebrating Diwali and thank everyone involved in organising not only our wonderfully colourful reception but all of the celebratory events taking place across Scotland.
Many of you will know that I have campaigned relentlessly including lodging a members bill on responsible parking so taking part in the final stages of the Transport Bill and seeing my proposal integrated into the new Bill was a great achievement.
My Bill sought to consolidate and clarify the laws surrounding pavement parking, and prohibit parking on pavements, adjacent to drop kerbs and double parking. The primary aim of the bill was to enhance the freedom of movement for all pedestrians, which would be particularly beneficial for those with disabilities and their carers, older people and people with pushchairs.
You can view the full debate here: https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/ReportSelectPage.aspx?type=plenary&year=2019&page=0&meeting=-1
To mark the 10 year anniversary of the Charter of Rights for People with Dementia and their Carers I held a members business debate in Parliament this week.
A reception marking the 10 year anniversary of the charter was also scheduled to take place on the same evening. However this was cancelled due to parliamentary business running until almost 9pm.
I and many others were disappointed as the dementia choir were due to perform and many people had travelled from across the country to hear the debate and attend the reception.
I am hopeful we can re-arrange the event.
You can access the full debate here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12310&i=111267
Black History Month
I met up with representatives from the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights in Parliament last week.
They were highlighting Black History Month, an initiative first launched in Glasgow in 2001 and takes place throughout October.
It focuses on people whose sacrifices, contributions and achievements against a backdrop of racism, inequality and injustice are often forgotten about and who are absent from our history books and education system.
Over the years, events have spread throughout Scotland and this year’s programme includes Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.
This year’s Black History Month has once again provided the opportunity for CRER to work in collaboration with individuals, community groups, voluntary sector organisations and public sector organisations.
You can download the programme here: https://www.crer.scot/black-history-month
A report has been published detailing the range of measures being put in place by the Scottish Government to mitigate a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
The overview document outlines the depth and scope of work underway, suggests what actions the UK Government should take and sets out the challenges Scotland may nevertheless face in the event of a ‘no deal’ on 31 October.
It details steps to protect food and medicine supplies, support businesses and safeguard vulnerable citizens. Specific initiatives have included the establishment of a Scottish Medicines Shortage Response Group and a commitment to create a £7 million Rapid Poverty Mitigation Fund in the event of a ‘no deal’.
You can read the full report here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-government-overview-no-deal-preparations/
The Scottish Government has called for the scrapping of a requirement that EU citizens live in the UK for five years before being eligible for settled status.
The Scottish Government has written to Home Office Minister Brandon Lewis arguing the move will better protect the rights of EU citizens.
EU citizens who want to remain legally resident in the UK after Brexit have to apply through the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme.
But those who have lived in the UK for less than five years are eligible only for pre-settled status, which does not give them or their children a guaranteed permanent right to remain.
I had no hesitation in supporting the passage of the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill which was lodged by John Finnie MSP.
We should all be committed to making Scotland the best place in the world for children to grow up. That means placing children’s rights at the heart of what we do, so that we create a Scotland where children feel loved, safe and respected.
The removal of the defence of reasonable chastisement will help to ensure that that goal can be achieved. The bill places Scotland in the vanguard in the UK in providing children with the same legal protection from assault as adults. That is the kind of country that I want our children to grow up in.